November 02, 2019
The American/Ukrainian medium-class Antares launch vehicle was successfully launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Saturday, November 2, at 15 hours 59 minutes Kiev time (9 hours 59 minutes EDT). The Antares rocket placed the 12th Cygnus automated cargo spacecraft into the orbit bound to
the International Space Station. The payload on the Cygnus mission includes nearly 3,750 kg of cargo to be delivered to the ISS under the new CRS-2 contract with NASA.
Antares comprises two stages and the Cygnus cargo spacecraft (third stage). The Antares Stage 1 Core Structure was developed by Yuzhnoye SDO and manufactured by Yuzhmash in cooperation with Ukrainian enterprises such as Hartron-ARKOS (Kharkov), Kievpribor (Kiev), Hartron-Yukom (Zaporozhye), CHeZaRa, Rapid (Chernihiv) and others. The prime developer and integrator of the Antares launch vehicle is Northrop Grumman Corp. of the United States.
The Antares launch vehicle was prepared for launch, tested, and launched by specialists from Yuzhnoye SDO, GP PO Yuzhmash and Khartron-ARKOS. Under the contract, Yuzhnoye provided technical support to the launch and received and processed telemetry in real time. Ukrainian specialists performed the full scope of operations under their responsibility.
Under the Antares program, the Ukrainian companies completed the entire work package related to design, development, and manufacture of the Stage 1 Core Structure hardware commissioned by NASA.
The twelfth Cygnus spacecraft for this space station resupply mission is named in honor of NASA astronaut Alan Bean, who became the fourth human to walk on the lunar surface (November 19, 1969). The S.S. Alan Bean is the first Cygnus spacecraft to launch under Northrop Grumman's Commercial Resupply Services-2 (CRS) contract with NASA, which provides for at least five more resupply missions delivering an additional 20 tons of cargo to the ISS.
The Cygnus NG-12 mission is delivering fresh crew supplies, equipment for the ISS, research hardware, and spacewalk equipment. In particular, the Cygnus will ferry the following to the ISS:
- Hardware to perform repairs of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a detector that measures antimatter in cosmic rays to understand the formation of the Universe and search for evidence of dark matter;
- Experimental Zero-G Oven to study heat transfer properties and the process of baking food in microgravity (the oven is designed specifically for use aboard the space station, and may have application on future long-duration space missions);
- The Made In Space - Recycler for reprocessing plastic into 3D printing filament in the orbiting laboratory;
- The AstroRad Vest to protect astronauts from radiation.
The Antares launch vehicle has flown 11 times since 2013; ten of the missions were successful.
The Antares project is a good example of cooperation among Ukrainian aerospace companies that participate in the international space projects and an example of successful work in the global space launch services market.